Frequently Asked Questions
What is TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine?
TCM is a complete medical system that originated in China and has been practiced over 3000 years. TCM focuses on balancing and supporting Qi in the body. A way of understanding Qi is that every cell in your body needs oxygen, vitamins, minerals...and energy to transport these. All of this is part of Qi. If Qi is deficient or imbalanced, then disease or pain will follow. It is from the manipulation of Qi, through acupuncture, herbs, tui-na (Chinese massage), and nutrition that balance and health can be achieved.
How does acupuncture work?
Qi flows within specific pathways called meridians. Acupuncture consists of inserting needles into the skin at certain points along the meridian in order to restore the balanced flow of Qi. The needling of acupuncture points has been found to reduce pain, improve energy levels and stimulate the body’s natural healing process. Western research has documented that acupuncture releases endorphins, increases blood flow, stimulates the immune system and affects the electromagnetic fields in the body.
What are Chinese Herbs?
Chinese herbs are plant, animal, and mineral substances that are used to treat disease and nurture Qi in the body. Their specific use is the culmination of thousands of years of empirical observation. What makes them 'Chinese herbs' is that they are prescribed according to TCM theory. The efficacy of many of these herbs is supported by western pharmacological research. Most herbal formulas are used effectively, and without side effects, in combination with western drugs and rarely pose any risk of side effects when used alone. However, I will discuss any questions or concerns you have before prescribing an herbal formula.
What is the initial evaluation?
The initial evaluation is an extensive discussion about your health in general, followed by an examination. I will answer any questions and discuss your diagnosis and treatment plan. I may also recommend a Chinese herbal formula to complement your acupuncture treatment. After our discussion, you can expect to lie quietly on a table with needles inserted for your acupuncture treatment. Most people find that acupuncture treatments are very relaxing, and some even fall asleep. The total appointment time is approximately one hour.
What is a follow-up treatment?
After the initial evaluation, we will usually schedule some number of follow-up appointments. These treatments take less time and you can expect to be in the office for about 45 minutes, although some may take up to one hour. There are additional treatment therapies that support acupuncture such as e-stim, tui-na, ear seeds and cupping which can increase the length of your visit.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments depends on the nature and duration of the problem. Acute problems can take as few as one or two treatments. Chronic problems may take 8-14 treatments. During the initial evaluation, we will discuss the anticipated number of treatments.
Needles: how many, for how long and what will it feel like?
I use pre-sterilized and disposable needles. You are the only person to ever use them. The needles are micro thin and they are inserted quickly to minimize any sensation. An average of 10-14 needles are inserted and left for 20-30 minutes at a depth of ¼ inch up to 3 inches: all of this depends on the area treated, the problem being treated, and the size of the patient. You may feel a dull ache, warmth, or tingling where the needle is inserted or along the meridian pathway – this sensation is the movement of Qi.
What should I expect after a treatment?
It is possible to feel relief from your symptoms immediately after your treatment. This is more typical with acute conditions, whereas symptoms of chronic conditions may begin to resolve within a day or two Please be patient and allow your body to adjust. Occasionally, patients can feel fatigued after a treatment.
How does this compare to chiropractic, massage therapy or other alternative medicines?
Any of these modalities can help heal your body and every person is different in their response to medicine or drugs. Acupuncture is effective by itself, but also beneficial in combination with chiropractic, massage or physical therapy, to decrease pain and increase blood flow, thus facilitating healing.